Tamils protest in eastern town

Place: Batticaloa | Courtesy: TamilNet
| Date: 20000320

More than a thousand Tamils began a one day token fast in Kalmunai, forty kilometers south of Batticaloa, this morning around 8.30 a.m. to protest against what one of the organisers described as "ethnically prejudiced denial of a fully fledged Divisional Secretariat to the Tamils" in the Ampara district.

"The Kalmunai Divisional Secretariat (Tamil) is one in name only. It was created in 1989. But it has not been given any powers since its establishment. The Tamil divisional office functions as a powerless appendage to the Muslim Divisional Secretariat. Therefore the Kalmunai Tamil sector, though much larger in size and population, is discriminated against in many matters including land and local development" said a spokesman for the Ampara District Tamil Maha Sabah, the group that mainly organised today's protest fast in the premises of the Kalmunai Divisional Secretariat.

The Kalmunai Tamil Divisional Secretariat comprises 29 Grama Sevaka (village officer) divisions, including Paandirippu, Kalmunai, Neelavanai, Sorikkalmunai and Senaikkudyirruppu. The region has a population of more than thirty thousand families.

Tamils in the greater Kalmunai region have complained over the years that funds allocated by the Provincial Council for the division have generally diverted for the improvement of Muslim areas here because the Kalmunai Divisional Secretariat (Muslim) was and is the de facto and de jure official recipient of monies from the government for implementation of development projects and is the main planning and implementing agency for the region.

The spokesman for the Ampara District Tamil Maha Sabah said that there has been discriminatory practices in the alienation and allocation of valuable land in the division aimed at weakeningthe Tamil presence in the region.

He claimed that a powerful Muslim politician in the government has been chiefly responsible for blocking the Kalmunai Divisional Secretariat (Tamil) from becoming a fully fledged administrative unit.

Over fifty Tamil organisations took part in the protest fast today. Mr.T. Sunil Wimalaretna, a Sinhalese who is the President of Sri Sitharama Rural Development Society also joined the protest.